Goldfinches are eating my swiss chard

idratherbegardeningJune 26, 2009

Tonight when I got home from work, I saw three male and two female goldfinches eating my swiss chard. They were pecking away at the leaves, and had stripped several leaves down to the veins. I thought goldfinshes were seed eaters - usually see them on my coneflowers and black-eyed susans. Anybody else ever have this experience?

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Dan Staley


I'd say they were eating aphids and destroyed the plant as a by-product of getting at the leaves.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 6:57PM
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That makes a lot of sense, Dan (actully more sense than birds eating chard leaves). But I haven't seen any aphids (except for the ones on my rose bushes - ugh - of course).

So I just did a google search on 'goldfinch swiss chard'. My garden web post was the first result returned, but the second result (from included this information:

"Goldfinches are strongly attracted to nibble the leaves of Swiss chard, but they eat only small bits of the entire leaves. They prefer the variety with red stems called rhubarb chard. They also like beet leaves."

Not sure how accurate this information is, but I think that was what was going on in my garden tonight.

It is actually good news because it turns out that none of our family really likes the swiss chard that much, but all of us like goldfinches!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 8:44PM
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Dan Staley

Huh. The goldfinches don't go anywhere near ours. Interesting. Maybe not tasty enough (but I grow for color & don't fert).


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 4:15PM
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This doesn't shock me after something I witnessed last year. We seemed to catch the "great goldfinch migration" with literally 40 to 50 finches in our yard during a 1 day period (our normal summer finch activity is 4 to 5 mating pairs of goldfinches and a few house finches). The goldfinches certainly swarmed the finch feeder, but the really weird behavior was how they all lined up at the border between the street and our yard in order to eat dandelion greens.

To this day, I hay no idea why they were eating dandelion greens, but there is no question that is what most of the "flock" was doing. But eating chard leaves wouldn't surpise me.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 11:35PM
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I have witnessed finches this year eating my fruit tree blooms, then the tiny cherry, plum, and apple fruitlets. Later I saw them eating the tops of my Sugar Snap Pea vines. Then they went after my beet leaves. Add this to the fact that they love to peck up cottonseed meal, I consider them to be a barely tolerable nuisance.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:35PM
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I am having the same problem and there are no aphids on my chard, I tried a netting but the holes were large enough for the birds to squeeze through. Just bought a netting with smaller holes and will try that. Any other suggestions

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 11:28AM
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I've grown broccoli, cauliflower, spinach.... for over 20 years and goldfinches have always pecked away at the leaves when I first put the small plants in the garden in spring. As the plants get larger and tougher the birds will leave them alone but they can really shred some of the leaves on the newer, smaller plants when I first put them in. I would imagine the younger plants and leaves are much tastier than the older plants which probably get a litter bitter as the plant matures??? Usually if the birds are doing to much damage to my young plants I will cover them with bird netting which does the trick.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 11:16AM
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GreenTart(Zone 8)

OMG...I thought I was crazy! I saw what I thought was a goldfinch (at a distance, and it wasn't fully gold yet) standing on my young rhubarb swiss chard going to town on it. I couldn't figure out why it would be eating that, as there are no bugs. They were also ignoring all my other plants. I googled the same thing you did (goldfinches chard) and found your post. Little buggers! They've destroyed most of the leaves! Time for some netting.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 4:12PM
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Starting in July, I've been seeing gold finches shredding my beet greens and at first thought there might be bugs, but didn't find any. I really enjoy having them visit my yard, and marvel that they haven't even touched my amaranth, which is a relative, and also red.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 10:06AM
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